What does it mean to be an excellent teacher? Most of us think in terms of academic outcomes. In the world of Christian schools, we instinctively know there is more to it than just student performance. An excellent teacher also fosters student character, engages the school community and improves school culture.
Community Christian School is very pleased to announce that Mary Ruth Downs was nominated for the John Rozema Excellence in Elementary Teaching Award. At a ceremony in Burlington on June 9, Mary Ruth was recognized as one of four finalists for this prestigious award. While Mary Ruth did not win the award, anyone who has spent time in her classroom knows how creative and intentional she is in her approach to teaching young children. Mary Ruth is respected as a leader in Kindergarten instruction who frequently presents professional development workshops and actively mentors new teachers. She is the Junior and Senior Kindergarten teacher as well as Curriculum Coordinator at Community Christian School.
We congratulate Mary Ruth Downs on her well-deserved recognition and are delighted and honoured to have her as a member of our staff.
The John Rozema Teaching Excellence Awards are presented by Cardus (cardus.ca) in partnership with the Christian School Foundation (christianschoolfoundation.ca) and are designed to encourage a robust excellence in Ontario's independent Christian schools. The three categories -- Group Excellence Award, Excellence in Elementary Teaching Award and Excellence in Secondary Teaching Award -- recognize excellence as an ongoing investment into the life of a Christian school community and a positive public contribution to the common good. Being shortlisted for a John Rozema Teaching Excellence Award is an indication of an educator's reputation for giftedness and excellent practice.
“As a parent whose four children have each spent two years in her JK/SK classroom, I believe Mary Ruth demonstrates the purpose, rigour and service in education which the Rozema Award recognizes,” says Jacob Zwiers, Chair of the Community Christian School Board of Directors. “Mary Ruth speaks passionately about the freedom a Christian school provides her to approach all subjects from the knowledge that God is our ever-present Father and we live as agents of restoration and justice in His world.”
“Being a teacher in a Christian school is an incredible blessing, but also a huge responsibility,” says Downs. “I am sometimes called Mom, a constant reminder that I am often in the role of parent in a Kindergarten classroom. However, the most sobering day was the day a student accidentally called me Jesus. I was honoured and terrified at the same time. It reminds me of a story of a little boy who is drawing. His mother asks him what he is drawing and he tells her he is drawing a picture of God. His mother gently says ‘But honey, no one knows what God looks like.’ To which he replies, ‘Well, they will after I am done.’ I am delighted to work in a school where we partner with parents and with the church to help reveal the face of God to our children.”
You can read the Cardus News Release here.